Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | December 14, 2023
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

You must obtain all relevant facts and evidence to determine who is liable for a truck accident. An attorney can help during this process, and they will explain—beyond a doubt—who is financially responsible for your accident-related damages.

Your lawyer may find that more than one party owes you compensation. For instance, you can hold a truck driver and their employer (a trucking company) liable for the collision.

A Columbia truck accident attorney will explain how to seek compensation from every party with liability for your truck accident.

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Parties That Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident

Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident

You can hold many parties liable for a truck accident. This means a party contributed to the accident somehow or has a legal responsibility for the collision (even if the party did not directly contribute to the accident).

Parties who you can hold liable for a truck accident include:

  • Truck drivers: Though truck drivers must obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and prove their capability, they are not immune to causing accidents. Truck drivers must contend with fatigue, the physical difficulty of driving a large truck, and the hazards that every driver faces. If a truck driver acts in any way that contributes to a collision, a victim can hold them liable for their damages.
  • Trucking companies: Trucking companies are often liable when their drivers cause accidents. These companies can also contribute directly to accidents. You can hold a company that hires unqualified drivers, fails to monitor driver performance, fails to drug test employees, or fails to replace outdated vehicles responsible for the resulting accidents.
  • Truck manufacturers: If a defect in a truck contributes to an accident, you can hold the truck manufacturer liable for resulting damages. If a specific component malfunctions, you can hold the component manufacturer liable. If a truck malfunctions because of old equipment or lack of service, you can hold the trucking company (rather than the manufacturer) liable.
  • Cargo loaders: If a truck accident results from unsafe cargo, you can hold those responsible for loading the cargo liable for the accident. Unsafe cargo can shift, fall out of the truck, or contribute to a collision in any other way.
  • Municipalities: When dangerous road conditions contribute to a truck accident, victims may sue the municipality responsible for those road conditions.

Truck accidents happen for a wide range of reasons. An attorney must review the details each time an accident happens to determine who is liable for victims’ damages. That’s what a truck accident lawyer will do for you.

Negligence Is the Standard for Liability in Truck Accident Cases

Truck accident lawyers generally use negligence as the standard for liability. Negligence happens when someone, like a truck driver, fails to act reasonably. When unreasonable actions (speeding or driving while distracted) cause an accident, the negligent parties must pay for the victim’s damages.

In many cases, insurance companies bear the cost of truck accidents. Your truck accident lawyer will determine who owes you compensation and demand it from those parties.

Common Forms of Negligence That Cause Truck Accidents

Based on the liable parties already outlined, several examples of negligence can lead to a truck accident, including:

  • For truck drivers: Speeding, driving while distracted, driving while tired, tailgating, running red lights or stop signs, driving while intoxicated
  • For trucking companies: Hiring unqualified drivers, failing to replace defective vehicles, failing to terminate unsafe drivers
  • For truck manufacturers: Failing to adequately test trucks for potential defects, failing to remove defective trucks from the market, failing to warn truck owners and operators of potential defects
  • For cargo loaders: Failing to distribute cargo evenly across the vehicle’s axles, failing to tether down cargo securely, failing to lock trailer doors properly
  • For municipalities: Positioning work zones too close to the road, failing to fix defective traffic lights and downed signage, failing to fill potholes and fix other road defects

When a person or organization acts (or fails to act) in any way that contributes to an accident, they are negligent. In many cases, they are also financially responsible for the harm they cause.

What Damages Must Liable Parties Cover After a Truck Accident?

A liable party should cover all of the damages from your truck accident. You can rely on a lawyer to determine what those damages are and how much those damages are worth.

Truck Accident Cases

 Some common damages from truck accidents include:

Healthcare Expenses

A serious truck accident may cost several thousands of dollars (or more) in medical expenses, which may result from:

  • Ambulance transport
  • Emergency medical care
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization
  • Imaging services (such as CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs)
  • Doctors appointments
  • Rehabilitation 
  • Medications
  • Medical equipment

Medical bills can be a source of intense financial pressure after a truck accident. Your lawyer will include all accident-related medical bills in your case, and they will demand that liable parties cover your healthcare costs.

Pain and Suffering

One journal describes post-traumatic stress disorder as prevalent among victims of traffic accidents, including truck accidents.

In addition to PTSD, your accident-related pain and suffering may include:

  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Lost quality of life

Every accident victim has a different psychological and emotional response to the trauma of a collision. Your attorney may work with a mental health expert to diagnose your pain and suffering, provide treatment, and calculate the cost of your care.

Lost Income, Lost Earning Power, and Other Professional Damages

Whether you suffer disabling injuries or temporarily miss work, your professional damages may include:

  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning power
  • Missed opportunities to earn performance bonuses and promotions
  • Lost fulfillment due to your inability to work
  • Lost benefits

Your attorney will consider your income, the length of your absence from work, and your future employment prospects. They will calculate the cost of current and future professional damages.

Vehicle Repairs and Other Property Costs

Your lawyer will consider the cost of:

  • Repairing or replacing your vehicle
  • Securing temporary transportation
  • Replacing clothing, electronics, and other personal property damaged during the truck accident
  • Purchasing medical equipment for a disability
  • Making changes to your home to accommodate a disability
  • Purchasing a disability-friendly vehicle

No matter the cost of your property expenses, you deserve fair compensation for them. Your lawyer will include these expenses in your insurance claim or lawsuit.

A Loved One’s Passing

If your loved one passed away during or after a truck accident, you have paid the ultimate price.

A truck accident lawyer will compassionately represent you, fighting for coverage of:

  • The decedent’s pain and suffering
  • Your pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium (the non-economic benefits the decedent provided)
  • Lost financial support
  • Funeral expenses
  • Any other economic or non-economic damages resulting from the truck accident

The first step is finding the right attorney when you need compensation after a truck accident.

Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Truck Collision

Weigh the potential benefits of hiring a truck accident lawyer, which includes:

  • The ability to focus on your health: Time is finite, and you must decide where to focus your energy after a truck accident. Health should always be a priority. When you allow a truck accident lawyer to lead your lawsuit or claim, you can focus on your health and recovery.
  • The financial support of a law firm: Law firms cover the entire cost of their truck accident cases. From covering filing fees to paying for experts’ services, your law firm will pay the upfront cost of completing your case.
  • The non-financial resources a law firm provides: Besides paying the cost of your case, a law firm offers an entire legal team. This includes your attorney, paralegals, investigators, and any experts your lawyer hires to assist with your case.
  • The experience-based advice a truck accident lawyer provides: Because you hire a lawyer with ample experience, you will benefit from the lessons the lawyer has gained representing other truck accident victims. Experience is immensely valuable when completing legal cases, which is why so many truck accident victims hire attorneys.
  • Your inexperience handling truck accident cases: Rather than trying to learn about insurance claims and lawsuits, you can rely on a lawyer who already knows the ropes.

Hiring a truck accident attorney may support you in several ways. Hiring an attorney may deliver the benefits you need after a collision, from providing essential financial support to aiding recovery.

Contingency Fees Mean There Is Little Risk in Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney

Contingency fees minimize the financial risk of hiring a truck accident lawyer. 

This is the most common fee structure for truck accident attorneys, and a contingency fee means that:

  • You do not pay the firm any upfront compensation
  • The firm pays to complete your case (including by covering the cost of expert fees, transportation, filing fees, and other expenses)
  • If the firm wins, your attorney receives a percentage of your settlement or verdict 
  • If the law firm does not win, it does not receive a fee (and you do not pay the firm, either)

Firms that use contingency fees have a clear incentive not just to win but to win as much compensation as possible for their client. This is a results-oriented fee structure that benefits many truck accident victims.

When Should I Hire an Attorney After the Collision?

You should hire your truck accident attorney as soon as possible after you get medical treatment and ensure your safety.

Your attorney may face a strict deadline for filing your case. They will also want to secure evidence as quickly as possible. The sooner you hire your lawyer, the quicker they can get to work.

What a Truck Accident Attorney Can Do for You

A truck accident lawyer’s goal is to secure the compensation you deserve.

Achieving this goal requires several smaller (but essential) steps, including:

  • Obtaining evidence: This is especially important in truck accident cases, where some vital evidence may be in a trucking company’s hands. Your lawyer will need to take urgent measures to secure that evidence, including work logs, data from the truck’s black box, and photographs of the damaged truck.
  • Calculating your damages: Your lawyer will determine how much money you deserve because of your truck accident. They will also secure all available proof of those damages, which may include medical records, past income statements, and expert testimony.
  • Protecting you from insurers and other liable parties: A lawyer is a means of protection. Your attorney will deal with insurance companies and other parties that may want to see your case fail. If you need to do anything (like give a recorded statement), your lawyer will walk you through the process.
  • Negotiating a settlement: Your attorney will present their settlement demands to liable parties. Those parties will then either meet the demands or push back against your lawyer’s demands. Your lawyer may then produce evidence of your damages and stand firm behind their settlement target.
  • Going to court: Most civil cases end with a settlement. However, your lawyer should go to trial if liable parties refuse a fair settlement.

Completing an insurance claim or lawsuit entails paperwork, phone calls, physical appearances, fact-checking, and other duties. Your law firm will handle all these duties while providing regular updates.

Anthony Bruning
Columbia Truck Accident Lawyer, Anthony Bruning

Research Truck Accident Lawyers in Your Area, and Don’t Wait

If you even begin to try to handle your own truck accident claim or lawsuit, you can jeopardize your physical and mental health. Just as concerningly, you can easily fail to mount a winning case. Then, you will find yourself in a much worse situation and might not have time to seek legal representation.

By allowing a truck accident lawyer to handle your case from the very beginning, you can focus on your health while your attorney fights for the money you deserve. Seek a free case evaluation today.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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